Cool Stuff

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State Of CHAOS

Yesterday the President of these United States practiced his annual  obligation to get up in front of the combined Houses of Congress and tell all of us how he thought our beloved Country was doing after the first year of his second term at the head of these Great United States.

I will state right here, that though I have never declared myself for any party, I am not and have never been a fan of this President.  I simply don't see him as a LEADER, a Statesman or even as an advocate for the United States or it's people. I think he is weak, indecisive, clueless of the legacy of our Nation and I truly believe his ignorance, as I see it, is downright dangerous.

That being said I will say that ever since I have been old enough to understand politics, history and government...I have always made it a point to watch any and ALL of our Presidents when they give a major speech whether it's the S.O.T.U, a foreign policy speech or any other kind where he appears on National TV Live to express himself and his policies.

As American Citizens, I see it as our RIGHT and obligation earned with the BLOOD of others, to hear what a President has to say and support him or resist him...either way. Which brings me to the topic of this post. Today on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, I read dozens of posts where people said they CHOSE not to watch the State of the Union Speech and there were quite a variety of reasons why they skipped the speech. 

But mostly they were because the author of the post didn't like the President. OK...I get I said I do not like him or support his policies myself. But I thought the excuses these folks gave for not watching/listening were a cop-out. 

And I feel that NOT listening to the President make a Major Policy Speech is not only a cop-out, but simply wrong, misguided and frankly just plain DANGEROUS. Why? Because that means that all these people who didn't want to listen because they were afraid "they were going to barf" or "just can't listen to this man" are going to get their information about this speech from a second hand it will NOT be objective.

No they will rely on a media outlet most likely or a radio program, all of which have an agenda to sell and sponsors to please by getting ratings. I think as Americans, we have a sacred responsibility to listen for ourselves and make intelligent decisions based on what we think and believe.

It is irresponsible to let others think for us and use lame excuses to justify why we are letting them do that. I can tell you why...Because most Americans are SHEEP...they would prefer to take the popular path by following others and find it easier to jump on someone elses wagon then to blaze their own trail.

Do I need to remind these good folks that many thousands of people died in places like Concord, Gettysburg, The Marne, The Argonne Forest, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sahn, Hue, Mogadishu, Fallujah, Ramadi and the Korangal Valley so that we can be free to judge our Leader when he speaks and send him packing if we don't like him or his policies.

Frankly I think it's disgraceful not to want to at the very least I can make informed decisions about our government. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm Afraid That...I Am Afraid!

From Pink Floyd The WALL
I've been going through a period of time where it has been very difficult to write. And unfortunately I know the origin of that difficulty. In the last 7.5 years since I have been clean & sober, i have not faced a set of circumstances financially like I am facing today.

I have covered this ground before specifically and you know what, I'm not going there again. I guess I have felt like I had to explain the details of my situation to verify that this is not a case of a person running amok with credit cards or poor money management. That I have just paid my bills. I suppose I keep doing that because I know how quick we humans are to judge.

I have had my butt kicked so thoroughly by these circumstances that I no longer think very highly of myself...never a real issue anyway for low self esteem is my middle name...but I have lost faith with people in general.

Never very trusting to begin with (not all that unusual for a rape victim to feel this way i suppose) I feel betrayed by people I once truly trusted. I followed advice given to me by people I respect, I attempted to get help from agencies or organizations that are there to help. What I found was total and complete rejection. I've never felt so unwanted, so alone or so isolated. I'm heartbroken and deflated.

It is difficult to describe accurately the sense of complete failure that I feel. Typically during times of difficulty or trouble I would find a way to reach out to someone who is hurting. Over the last several years that would mean going to M-ville (An assisted Living Home and reading the Bible to the residents there. That was truly a gift from God, the ability to read to shut ins or residents of assisted living.

That physical ability to read and minister in that fashion has been taken away from me. Most people have no clue I did this stuff because other then Masonville I never spoke to anyone about it. I just kept that stuff to myself.

As I sit here tonight at 3:50am after another sleepless night, I can only write that I am really afraid right now. I don't know what to do other then pray and frankly I am losing the physical and spiritual strength to do even that! I haven't been able to eat or sleep....I feel mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally spent.

I desperately need help yet everywhere I have turned I have been rejected. Seems weird....I never could or would give up on people yet it seems like I have been forgotten.

I have to go...sorry for this folks but this is my reality tonight...hopelessness.                                                                                                  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Friendship Forged in Suffering....

This is one of those posts that really needed to be written and read. Why? First of all because it shows that human beings, no matter how difficult or painful the situation, will find a way to endure ANYTHING and then over come it. 

In this particular example it started with two men and their simple faith that GOD was going to take care of them. That no matter how dark and difficult things appeared....they were not going to give up and let the Bastard Win!!

The second reason is much more personal. One of those two men was my friend Mike and if it wasn't for him...I honestly don't know if I would have been able to endure the last 4 years or so. It was an almost unbearable time in my life....a time filled with
 pain & agony, confusion, emotional upheaval, despair, frustration, financial catastrophe, heart-break, multiple surgeries and set-backs and on and on and on. My relationships with family and friends were pushed to the very brink of destruction on many occasions.

You see, much like my life....the last several years for Mike had been filled with a very similar series of medical set-backs, constant debilitating pain and frustration. And as the old saying one person suffers in a void, Mike's wife Kathy suffered and endured this incredible hardship right along with him.Often feeling helpless to help the man she cared so much about. There were a ton of questions and no reasonable answers.

I was fortunate enough to meet Mike and his wife Kathy at church and that relationship grew into something BIGGER THEN EITHER ONE OF US INDIVIDUALLY. IT was a strange set-up in a way. We didn't talk on the phone or do stuff together...we mainly saw each other at church on Sunday mornings. But those conversations laid the foundation of faith that I believe helped both of us in a way to continue fighting the good fight during these years of pain and difficulty.

We would often marvel at the similarities in our uncanny it was that we were brought together to share things with each other that I know I wasn't comfortable talking about to anyone else.His situation, since it was so similar to mine gave him INSTANT Credibility to me....I trusted him and that was huge since there were few people I truly trusted. This made it more bearable for me to know that there was at least another person around on the planet who felt like I did.

Several weeks ago I saw Mike at church and he really looked like his illness was getting the better of him. As we often did, WE WERE JOKING AROUND, in a black humor sort of way about the doctors who were supposed to be taking care of us. We joked about how sooner or later a Doctor was gonna kill one of us.

Looking backing on that conversation now, I wish I hadn't initiated that line of conversion with Mike. It turned out to be the last time I ever spoke to my friend here on earth. Mike passed away last Saturday                             in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan Medical Center from complications due to his long running illnesses and Cancer Treatments.

Naturally my first reaction was one of shock. Yea....I knew how sick he was and I knew he was weary and that his time was very near but your never totally prepared for the final reality of death. Plus I wasn't ready to let God have him. I selfishly wondered how I was going to make it through all this without Mikes wise-cracking, good natured outlook on things.

Then it occurred to me that Mike's long fight, his awful life-long battle was over...and he was finally at rest.He won the fight that he fought for so long and so well. I love Mike and I miss him....I know how much Kathy loves him and so do many others but to the very last one of his friends and family we believe he most certainly deserves his rest with the LORD. No worries Brother, we'll catch up to you and HEAVEN and we'll really have something to talk about then!

And that of course reminds me of one of my favorite verses of scripture:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30

There you go my friend....REST. It's all yours now as you crawl in close and wrap yourself safely and tightly into the Hands of GOD.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Turned Around

I am  feeling completely turned around right now emotionally. I'm running a fever, much like I did for the entirety of last summer and I am pissed because it is for the exact same reason: My leg is badly infected.

But for reasons my close friends will understand...I am not going off on the usual tangent tonight about my health or medical issues and I am particularly not going to make any kind of comment about Doctors and the way they practice medicine these days.

I'm extra emotional this night because a friend is quite ill and I care about him and his wife.

Honestly I marvel at the fact that after all these years of pain, suffering and the many attempts to suppress my emotions by drinking/drugging them away, it totally shocks me to my very core that I still have the ability to feel and to care about others.

As a matter of is only that ability and willingness to love and care for people that has allowed me to retain my humanity throughout all of this inhuman treatment and experience and for that I am grateful.

Sorry my rambling monologue tonight, just prayer for my friends Mike and Kathy.                    

Monday, January 13, 2014

Guardians of Hypocrisy & The Simplicity of Caring

I seem to have gotten myself in a bunch of trouble again and now folks are upset with me. Good...I'm doing just what the LORD has asked me to do. 

Think I'm kidding? I only wish I was because the personal cost of this burden of using my own life, my faults, my mistakes, my miserable experiences as an example to others by writing this blog can be humiliating, humbling, painful and embarrassing. Especially when all the self appointed GUARDIANS of Christianity and The Church attack me for supposedly throwing fellow members under the bus. 

Please read more carefully, my friends...the only one getting thrown under any bus around ME. Multiple the way. But hey...if it opens one's eyes and HEART then It's my great PLEASURE. That's the bottom line....if it helps folks...and the feedback I get emailed to me every day says it does then I am happy to do it.

Yesterday I wrote a post that admittedly was not one of my best works. I know that. But this subject matter (money, caring, communicating, honesty, reaching out for help and suicide, etc) is extremely difficult to get one's arms around and it has a tendency to make people misinterpret my entire point in addition to making them angry and defensive. They focus on the manner and not the matter. In other-words they don't like how I communicate it, they get defensive and they miss the point because of their emotion.

One rule here on Shell Shock Serenade and you can check this with the over 1800 previous posts...I never criticize anyone or anything on this page even remotely close to how many times I've criticized myself. And more often then not, I am criticizing myself here and my own behavior or reaction...not somebody else's behavior or reaction.

I got wordy yesterday so I will try to narrow this down. Jesus said in Mathew 22:36-40 -

 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So he said "Love thy neighbor as thyself" ....And that my friends is in essence what I am talking about here. When someone is communicating their hurt, do not let the subject matter overwhelm reason and negatively color what they are saying.

I was specifically writing yesterday about money, medical bills and being in debt. I am in extreme debt do to my year-long medical issues. I need to talk about that, otherwise I will hold it in, isolate and frankly, it is so troubling me that I could decide I don't want to live anymore.

But the moment I bring it up, people automatically think I am asking them for money. the responses have become tiresome and predictable:"They say they don't have a magic wand or they tell me in great wisdom that one can't put a price on their health. They will give me such sage advice like only pay $10 a month and tell them that is all you have, what can they do?"

I'll tell you what they do, they call every 10 minutes from 7a until 10pm seven days a week. They called and harressed my 80 something year old parents, one guy calling my mother a "Mother-F***ing Bitch" for raising me. The putting a price on your health is a clever line but I don't need to put a price on my health...the hospital, Insurance Companies and the Doctors AREADY HAVE...and they want it YESTERDAY and will get Collection Agencies to do their dirty work for them.

This is my point: I don't want nor need advice or jokes...there is NOTHING remotely funny about any of this. I do not need a lecture about how to be responsible with my money...I AM responsible with it...I have bills and I am trying to pay them like I am supposed to. I did nothing wrong except apparently get hurt. I did not mis-manage or overspend my I paid or tried to pay my bills.

Lastly....I am NOT telling you this to make you feel guilty...I am in no way asking for money from you. Just  your friendship and love. Just is important for people who are hurting to be able to vent this stuff.

People talk about starting caring ministry's at church...stop talking about it and do it. I have a friend who once was an Elder in our church, he has a caring ministry and doesn't even realize it: It is very simple and critically important...he takes people like me who are hurt to their doctor's appointments...any time, any place.

It takes little true effort and NO money actually if you want to Love Your Neighbor...just care and help out. Maybe they are lonely...go for a chat and a coffee. Shovel a driveway....just take the time to call a shut-in a couple times a week.Folks we complicate this when we do not need to. Just do IT.

Lastly...people do not have to pretend to be perfect or something we are not. This is one of my favorite quotes from Pastor Kyle Idelman's Ministry, Notafan: 

What Christ wants in a follower: Someone who isn’t pretending on the outside to have it all together. That’s one of the ways the word hypocrisy is defined, as “the act of pretending.”

I couldn't agree more....

Sunday, January 12, 2014

You Are NEVER Out of the Fight

This is gonna be brutal...sorry everyone. I'm hurting, I received very bad news...a good friend continues to hurt along with his wonderful wife and I am hurting about them too.

Humility is not my forte, I assure you. My friends and family will verify this. But over the years of my recovery....I have learned that along with acceptance, it is the critical, MUST HAVE ingredient to getting better: Admitting I am at fault, accepting that I am an  alcoholic and I cannot fix my problems or anyone else's and that only GOD Can.

Before I go on I guess I'm gonna spill my guts about something and yes, it is very honest and the subject matter is not very nice or pleasant. Suicide, suicide attempts, thinking about suicide and what people do when they start to feel physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually bankrupt.

There have been a couple of times during the history of Shell Shock Serenade where I have written posts when I was in deep shit all across the board above (Emotionally, Physically, Psychologically and Spiritually) and feeling seriously self-destructive and like it was time to quit on life. I am not proud of that but I have had some serious emotional pit falls in my life (most notably after being sexually assaulted as a pre-teenage boy).

I do not feel that way today but I have learned something from my own experience when I tried to take my own life and from the experiences of others....particularly two friends who succeeded in killing themselves.

The first tragic thing family and friends do is look to blame themselves. Frankly though....I have found that it usually is not someone elses fault. But I will tell you something else I have noticed. People will say: I can't believe he did this...I NEVER knew, he kept it to himself. Really? I know I may be out of line saying this but I doubt it. I suspect he left clues somehow some way. Even if it was just a very subtle change in the way he lived or spoke or drove.

I have learned from my own experience that the best weapon against suicidal thoughts or self-destructive behavior is to talk or write about whats happening to me. That's right people....that is how SHELL SHOCK SERENADE was born. I learned that by not holding being open and honest all the time, I nip any chance of feeling that much despair & pain in the bud.

When I request prayer from my church prayer line, for example....well I hate asking for any kind of help, with a freaking if I would request help from someone, like with my financial difficulties (I have had nearly $26,000 in OUT OF POCKET in Med bills I have paid or need to pay like A MONTH AGO!) it is because my back is against the wall and I am desperate. Time is critical.

I already feel isolated, like the world has set itself on top of me with it's FULL WEIGHT and I am being crushed. I am not actively thinking about giving up and taking my own life here but I HAVE thought about it several times recently wondering if this wasn't just too much to bear. My life has been on hold for a year now while I suffer, terrible, physical debilitating Pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week with NO END in sight. The psychological, emotional and spiritual side effects of that are devastating to me personally to my friends and family who must then live with this raging, emotionally damaged person they just so happen to love. Even for a person like me, who has a strong relationship with GOD, this kind of pressure is the ultimate test of sanity.

It isn't pretty and it is getting more difficult for me to find any joy in has become a life of surviving. There is no adventure, no fun, no mischif or laughing....just getting through one hellish day after another with NO END in sight!

I am not going to quit and I am not asking for my life to be any different then any body elses life but I would absolutely be lying if I did tell you that I am not being worn down by this Mad Season....more then a year of suffering, the terrible isolation and the fear that in reality, I am never going to heal just totally kicks my ass.

What I am saying here is that as friends and family...we need to listen harder, pay more a little nosier with those we love...particularly if we suspect they are deeply hurting, covering up that hurt and are in trouble. Don't wait to find out that your love one did the unthinkable...because the unthinkable is now happening at an incredible rate in the United States and it isn't trending back down any time soon. For Cemeteries...particularly Military Cemeteries...Business is GOOD! 

I know that I am never in a place too dark or too bad that God cannot save me. He has already rescued me from DEATH on one occasion and from myself on several more. But that doesn't mean that I am not troubled....I'll be honest here. People tell me they want to help me...I don't believe them. The help I need right now is Medical and financial....desperately.I believe what they are really saying is they want someone else to help me...just not them.Or perhaps it isn't that sinister and they really want me to be helped but it is beyond them to do it. Hey...I can understand and accept that.

What I cannot accept are people who pretend they are helping...being very visible on Facebook about praying for me and my family. The moment I try and share my trials with them...they freak and run & hide behind cliches, excuses or decisions made by somebody else like the church, for example.

The Doctors will always follow their own patterns and behaviors....frankly it often seems like they could care less. My current physician on the other hand does care...I really believe that. But I have another infection now and it is serious. It took 3 hospitalizations for a total of 14 days, 6 months and an Ocean of IV and oral Anti-Biotic to finally prevail....and now it has happened all over again.I would be dishonest if I denied that this latest discovery hadn't pushed me further and further out on this ledge I've been standing on.

I asked some folks for help several weeks ago and I have heard nothing back from update, no answer...they must have forgotten about me. it is thr Remember how I just wrote a few minutes ago that time is critical...every day that passes, creditors harass me and my family.

Dealing with my overwhelming medical bills is the toughest part. No matter what your circumstances...people will act as if you were irresponsible...that it's your own fault that you cannot pay your medical bills. They will change the subject, avoid talking to you about it. Everyone thinks you are asking for their help or trying to "guilt" them. I have seen it a lot. I understand their rational. Hell, I have gotten myself in financial trouble before and I wasn't always very understanding when people wanted to talk about their problems with money.But that is NOT The situation here. If I was a child my plight very well could have ended up in the news. But since I am an adult....I some how caused all this and I am avoided like the PLAGUE.

But you know what....sometimes when a person is under an unrelenting, CRUSHING financial burden...complete with phones calls literally every 10 minutes for 7a -10p,  threats, name-calling, their family being really helps to talk to someone who cares about just be able to get it off my chest....get out from underneath all the pressure even for just a few minutes.

I mentioned before how I hate to ask for help....even more so when it is help with money. It is embarrassing even when it is not your fault. My medical bills for 2014...actually from February 9 until December 31st, 2015 were over $129,000 total with a hair over $28,000 being out of pocket therefore it was expected to be paid immediately. People who have never been there before some how become great at giving debt relief advice...hey tell them all you can pay is $50 a month...they have to take it. they really want a minimum of $300 per month and won't settle for less or it will go to collection and they will make your life a living HELL. And they me! Oh and then there are 6 other business's that want it that same way plus 4 who will take $100/month and another 3 that will take $50/month. 

Needless to say every last bit of savings I once had is gone. I had to sell my beloved Ford F-150 pick up truck for FAR less then it was worth, I've sold antiques, family heirlooms, art work, all of my guns except two shotguns and a .22 rifle. And that did not begin to scratch the surface. 

My parents, GOD love them, have helped me tremendously even though they are in their 80's and live on a VERY fixed income. That still didn't scratch the surface. I'm still making ridiculous payments and now a new wave of bills have hit thanks to my latest surgery and hospital stay.

What did I do to make this happen? How was I negligent? I fell on February 9, 2014...that is all I did. I HAVE Medical Insurance so I had got infected and the real nightmare began: many more days in hospital, several more surgeries...we discovered my Neuropathy caused my ankle bone to deteriorate and that had to be fixed. My crime folks was trying to pay my bills instead of declaring for bankruptcy. 

I was rebuilding my life after divorce and addiction....when this started I had $3800 in the bank, several nice investments and a storage unit full of a house full of furniture and antiques. It is all gone except for a bit of furniture. 

What people don't realize is when I am asking for financial help, as I did about a month ago after my minister talked me into seeing it was the right thing to do, I was already in deep trouble. I am already getting harassed, the phone rings off the hook, my family in addition to myself are being verbally threatened. YEA, my 80 year old parents are being called names when some moron calls them at their home on their own phone. I do not use their address or do these animals get my parents information? And there is nothing I can do but wait for answers. It is de-humanizing, humiliating and almost more then I can stand.

So that is the deal...All I can do right now is basically wait here while all this harassment and threatening is going on. I have not even a dollar I can put toward another payment plan. It affects my faith, my emotions, my relationships. Even though I have never belonged to any political party...I have always been fiscally conservative but it makes me freaking SICK to hear people who are very well off talk about health care and reform like they have a clue. NO, they do what I did when I had a fantastic career and was well off financially. I resisted all change because I had mine and screw everyone else.'s human nature. I did it myself and I suspect the Good Lord gets a chuckle about it when he wonders if I have finally learned my lesson.

I me I have...unfortunately it was much too late to help several people I really could and should have when I had the resources.

Please don't blow people off...they might just need to vent. It may just save their life....

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An American NINJA

Ah yea...all of you folks who thought you knew me and have never heard me mention my interest in Ninja's and stuff. The Ancient Warrior caste and all. OK....I'll come clean...the Ninja I am talking about here is a high powered BLENDER for making soup, smoothie's and power shakes, etc.

About 6 months ago I got obsessed with this notion of eating better by being able to take things like fresh spinach, frozen berries, bananas (the ingredients above), apples and oranges etc. combining them with Vanilla Almonds Milk to create an amazing way to quickly and easily DRINK my fruit and vegetables.

The ingredients above are from a smoothie call "Golfer's Juice". Here is the recipe but it's really easy to improvise with this:

1 cup of almond milk (vanilla)
1 Banana
6 Dark Cherries (frozen)
1 cup of Spinach
1/2 cup of red berries (frozen)
1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen)

My family and friends were skeptical that I would even follow through and continue to use my new NINJA Blender but I have. for me it was simple...I had to be honest with myself. When I asked myself the question WHY I wasn't eating more vegetables mostly (I already eat a great deal of fruit) and some fruit, I knew the answer was i was too lazy to take the time and make the effort to cut up the fruit, cut the veggies, etc. Blending them together and then having this great meal drink I could take with me was fantastic and saved a lot of time.

I love it and now I really don't want to live without it. I cannot wait until I can walk/run again so I can take this interest in heath and add some intense walking or running to it. So for now I'll make smoothies and continue to heal but the Spring is coming!   And I am really ready to get going...for SURE!                                  

Sunday, January 5, 2014


During the nearly 11 months since my initial injury and subsequent treatment attempts, surgeries, hospitalizations, etc and now the 11 week recovery period with no walking what so ever, the days are long, sometimes difficult, always painful yet mostly tolerable....the nights however are just plain HELL.

Oddly the pain intensifies...or so it seems. More then likely I am just more focused on it because there is nothing but me and the quiet there is nothing to distract me from thinking about it all constantly. I have never been able to adjust and get more then 20 or 30 minutes of sleep at most during this long ordeal.

So I find myself alone with my imagination...we do not make good company, I assure you. I get fearful that I will just not recover. That I will be a cripple...doubled over with arthritis and nerve damage pain from my Nueropathy.

It is seemingly a good time to strengthen my faith in the Lord yet I find myself questioning HIM more and more often. I get fretful and don't communicate (PRAY) with HIM even though I know how well that works when I've practiced regular prayer & meditation.

I know people care yet I feel isolated from my friends, from my family and society as a whole. I often feel alone in a crowd and for the first time since I started to attend Church. 

Yet it is the night which HAUNTS me most...driving away any rational thought with pain thus making room for irrational fear to move in and control my mood and my behavior. It is a constant struggle to stay connected with my Creator and keep it together.

And yet I often overcome that adversity, thank GOD! And those are victories I will take any time...any day.

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson

Thursday, January 2, 2014


I have always looked at myself as a person who is pretty aware of the things going on around him. Particularly the behavior of people but also the environment in which I live. It is personally quite interesting to see myself and my life through the eyes of others. Recently I have gotten some direct (face to face) and indirect (unsolicited) feedback on how well I seem to be doing. As much as I think that my life is an open book it amazes me how little people really can tell about how I am and what I feel inside at any given minute. Even after reading posts in this blog, people still misunderstand how I am & what I am feeling.

There is a tendency in our society to put a positive face on everything so when one is honest about their feelings in a forum such as this is often misunderstood